In a previous post , ‘A single source of truth with Customer Success’, I explained what is meant by the phrase ‘A single source of truth’. It’s a phrase that is often referred to in Customer Success groups, books, training and conferences.
Typically when the phrase is referred to it is in the context that within your business, you should have one place (system/document) you can go to which holds everything (or at least the critical things) you need to know about your client. A source that is reliable, up to date and used by all teams liaising with the client.
But it is also important that your client has a single source of truth for interactions and actions between your business and theirs. This not only ensures a more efficient working relationship between you and your client, but it ensures outstanding actions/questions are completed, and any decisions made are recorded. A document to focus both sides of the customer relationship.
The best and simplest mechanism I have found for this is a simple Google Doc. The Google Doc should be shared between your business and your clients. This way both your business and your clients have access to the live document at all times. They can add notes questions and flag these for your attention between your usual calls.
During your regular calls, meetings and other communications you can add comments to the document. E.G. Meeting notes, outstanding actions.
Anything that is no longer relevant or has been completed, add to a ‘Archive’ section at the bottom of the document. That way is is there should you ever need it.
The document should hold the vital outcomes, actions and questions between company and client. If you keep the document open during meetings and calls you can update it ‘live’ as points come up.
This way both sides don’t need to make individual notes, both can make notes in the same doc and there is then a shared set of outcomes and actions between both parties. Full transparency, and focus on actions and outcomes that can really help strengthen the Company > Customer relationship.
It is also great when your are speaking to a few clients in short succession. The shared doc can quickly get you in the right mindset when speaking with the client what their current priorities are.
If you don’t currently have a shared document between you and your clients I would fully recommend giving it a try.
Within Customer Success having a ‘single source of truth’ is vitally important to ensure everyone who communicates directly with your clients has a true view of the client relationship status. No matter who within your business speaks to the client, they should be aware of all the current facts when speaking with them. For example, what if the Customer Success Manager, who is trying to renew their contract was not aware they had not paid any invoices in 6 months, or had raised a number of unresolved support cases, given a low NPS score or made a complaint to the CEO? At best it might seem slightly unprofessional, at worst it may lose the renewal.
In most, if not all businesses multiple different systems are often in use. The Sales team may use a CRM such as Hubspot or Salesforce to capture their communications with the client. The accounts team may use Xero , Sage or similar to manage invoices and payments, alongside document tools such as DocuSign to manage client contracts and letters. The Customer Success Team may have a designated tool such as Gainsight/Natero or might be using spreadsheets and email. The Support Team are likely to have a ticketing system such as ZenDesk or Fresh Desk. And so on across Marketing, Legal etc.
In an ideal setup, all these isolated software applications should integrate into one central application. Giving you a single dashboard view for a client where you can see their status with Accounts, Support, Customer Success and so on. This is often then colour coded so you can quickly asses the health of a client and be aware on any problems prior to speaking with them. E.G. A red status for ‘Accounts’ could flag their payment is overdue.
Typically many companies try to achieve this view within their CRM. But there are better tools out there to do this with, such as Gainsight who have a feature built in called ‘360 Customer View’. This aggregates all of the data streams to give you a ‘single source of truth’ view of your client and their respective health score at anytime. Capture all interactions, monitor all KPI’s and pickup quickly on vulnerable clients.
But what if your individual systems do not communicate with each other and you don’t have the budget to introduce a tool such as Gainsight? How can you obtain a single source of truth?
If you are currently in this situation of having your client data across different platforms and not integrated/consolidated anywhere I would highly recommend looking into a tool such as Gainsight before progressing with your ‘single source of truth’ project. Even if budget is not available, I would still look into this and make a case. The reason I say this is because it will take a significant effort to integrate your data channels into one ‘single source of truth platform’. If you are going to invest in this effort then you will want to be able to use that consolidated data to its full potential once done, and tools such as Gainsight will facilitate that. By adding in a tool now, you are laying the foundations for the future.
If you have limited or no budget but have some reasonable technical skills within the business that you can lean on, then maybe a solution such as Google Data Studio might be for you. Google Data Studio can be used for free (within certain limits) and allows you to create custom dashboard views using data from multiple different channels. You can pull in data from other platforms, databases and other google products such as Google Analytics. You can then make a dashboard view that lists the main metrics you need. This will not work well as a communication tracker but will give you a quick health check view of a client. You will need to be quite technical to setup most of the integrations.
If technical skills are limited making the above not an option, and there is no budget to invest in a new tool, then options are limited, but improvements could still be made.
You could setup a Google Sheet, shared with all departments that has a tab for each client. Within the tab for each client, key data can be added, and notes placed. E.G. Account in debt, speak to accounts for details. This requires a lot of discipline across the business to ensure it is kept current, but I would strongly recommend doing this if the other options are not available and you currently have data across multiple systems.
I would only suggest doing this in Google Sheets and not excel. Google Sheets is hosted online and can be viewed and edited by multiple people at the same time. With Excel you could end up with endless copies of the same file, and people overriding each other.
In summary, a ‘Single source of truth’ is vitally important within every business. How can you make the best of any opportunity without all of the information to hand. If you can, invest in a tool early, lay the foundations and then reap the rewards.
I am often in and out of London for meetings, trying to schedule calls in between meetings whilst negotiating the underground or an Uber. Although there are thousands of places you can go to jump online and do an email, I found it so hard to find anywhere quiet enough to be able to concentrate and do some deep work, or jump onto a call. Always on the look out for some free co-working work space in London I came across Google Campus.
Google Campus also known as Google for Start-ups is located in a number of cities around the globe. In London, the office is based in Shoreditch.
In essence it is communal co-working office space provided by Google for Free to anyone starting or working in a start-up. In London Google Campus is located on the basement floor of their Shoreditch office. It comprises of a whole floor of different work spaces from sofa’s, meeting tables, booths and a private garden. It also has its own cafe so there is no reason to leave all day. The Wifi is free and plug sockets are in abundance. There are additional resources to help you progress in your work such as whiteboards.
The atmosphere is usually buzzing with energy as many techies work away on their own project. There is a communal notice board where you can find team mates of offer your help to other projects.
In addition to the amazing space and resources, there are often many lectures and workshops on an array of topics that are usually free to attend also.
To be able to use Google Campus you need to have passed their application process. The application process is free and you can find it on their website listed below.
Visit Google Campus